Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: February 2020

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. The concept of a TBR Jar is not a new one. I’ve seen it used in various ways throughout the bookish community. My jar will be a little different. The goal is to read the older books on my to-read pile. Thus, instead of putting individual book titles on a small sheet of paper to place in the jar, I wrote a month and a year on each. Each month, I intend to pull three sheets of paper from my jar which will dictate which three books I will read. The dates on the paper correspond with the date I added those books to my Goodreads account. Some months will have over 20 books to choose from, when others may have only one. From Goodreads, I’ll choose the three books from the three different monthly hauls. And if I cannot complete the book within the month, it will be unhauled (with the exception of one pass each month).



In January, I tackled books from my June 2013, July 2014, and August 2015 book hauls. I am so happy to report that I finished all three of the books I pulled out of the jar. Switched by Amanda Hocking turned out to be pretty good. It had a new take on trolls, creatures I don’t read much about usually. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson was kind of a letdown. The concept was good but the execution wasn’t my favorite. Also, Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRouche was a travel memoir I’ve been meaning to read for years now. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it was as it followed Torre’s sailing adventures from California to Australia. While interesting, I was expecting more inspiring travels on land.

From the jar, I picked from the February 2011, September 2017, and August 2017 book hauls. From there I chose the following books:


Bloodlines by Richelle Mead: I started this year with finishing off one of my longest-running series, the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine, so now it’s time to start a new series. I’ve owned the entire Bloodlines series for a while now so I’m excited to finally start it!

Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch: I read Snow Like Ashes years ago so I’ll have to skim through that before starting the sequel. But if I remember correctly, I enjoyed the first one so the sequel should be good.

Black Spring by Alison Croggon: This is a retelling of Wuthering Heights that has gotten awful reviews. Yet, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is my favorite classic of all time so I’m still intrigued. Plus, I adored Croggon’s fantasy series, the Books of Pellinor.

Contemporary-a-thon


Contemporary-a-thon is hosted by booktubers: ChelseaDolingReadsPages and Pens, and MyReadingisOdd. Here’s the announcement and challenges for the readathon. This readathon takes place between February 10th to the 17th. Participants have to read all contemporary novels. There are 7 challenges for the readathon. Here’s the books (and their challenges) I hope to get to:

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali (new-to-me author, diverse, hard hitting, beloved): I’ve only heard amazing things about this. It’s a little bit heartbreaking and hopefully with a little bit of romance thrown in.

Love and Other Train Wrecks by Leah Konen (green on the cover, illustrated cover): It takes place entirely in 24 hours on a train. It sounds like something I would enjoy! 

Starstruck by Cyn Balog (backlist): I’ve read Alone by the same author which absolutely wrecked me. Starstruck is one of her older titles but I’m hoping for it to be strange and interesting.

What are you planning on reading this month?

kickin' it

Kickin' It: January 2020 Wrap Up

Monday, February 03, 2020


Kickin’ It is a feature at The Bucket List where I round-up the whole month in one post, bringing you reviews you may have missed, other awesome bookish things, and even what I’m currently obsessed with in other media besides books. January was such a busy month and if that was an indicator of how the rest of the year is going to be, I’m barely going to have any time to blog. I kind of took a little break in the middle of January. I started grad school this month and even though I’m only taking four classes, they’ve been taking up most of my time. Anyway, despite all that, I did manage to read 11 books. My brother got me a scratch-off poster of classics you need to read before you die and I spent a lot of this month reading some classics from the list. Here’s what I read:


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (3 stars): This book was one of those that I meant to read last year and never got around to it. I finally read it and I’m quite disappointed that I will not be continuing in the duology.

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon (5 stars): After the reading month I was having (the curse of the 3 stars!), this was such a breath of fresh air. Sandhya Menon’s work never fails to make me smile. The Dimple and Rishi series is so wholesome and lovely. There’s a third book coming out this year and I can’t wait!

Instinct for Graduates by T.D. Jakes (3 stars): There were some good tips for graduates in this but most of it was common sense.


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (3.5 stars): I liked this one! It read like a self-help book between a whimsical adventure. It was cute and held quite a bit to unpack. The prose did take some getting used to as it was shorter and more abrupt sentences. This may have to do with it being translated to English but I’m not sure.

Switched by Amanda Hocking (4 stars): I own many Amanda Hocking books and have never read any. I chose this one out of my tbr jar. It had a lot of tropes but I enjoyed it. Plus, did you know this book is about trolls? Hocking takes on a whole new perspective on these creatures.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRouche (3 stars): I adore reading travel memoirs so I was excited to get to this one. I didn’t know this one was primarily a sailing memoir which isn’t really my thing. However, Torre’s story was interesting and definitely worth reading!


Fall of Night by Rachel Caine (4 stars): From a Morganville Vampire series standpoint, this book was one of the slower ones. Fall of Night is the 14th book in the series. I don’t think much happened but that ending was phenomenal. It’s hard to believe the next book, Daylighters, will be the last in the series.

Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook by Dana Gunders (3 stars): I’ve been reading this one for months. I would read a chapter or two and then forget about it. There was some good tips on storing food and limiting waste in the kitchen.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (3 stars): I was intrigued at the premise of this memoir going in. However, the book was primarily written by David Oliver Relin and seemed like a study of how great his friend, Greg, is. It wasn’t my favorite.


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (3 stars): I don’t know anyone who’s read this one, not even for school, so I was intrigued going in because I didn’t know what to expect. Tom is a bit of a troublemaker. It did remind me of some of the classics I read in high school. And for me, it was just okay.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (3 stars): I understand that Frankenstein was one of those books that birthed the horror genre to what it is today and there were some aspects that I liked. Yet, overall, the book was a bit slow and just not for me.


Night Spinner by Addie Thorley (2/11): A retelling of The Hunchback of Notre Dame; need I say more?

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light (2/18): I love a good fake dating debacle. Becca is sick of her friends pestering her about not having a boyfriend so she makes one up. Brett having heard about Becca’s lie, decides to swoop in and pretend to be her boyfriend. However, fake dating is hard, especially when you barely know the other person.

Honor Lost by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (2/11): I rarely read science fiction; it’s just not for me. However, I read Honor Among Thieves when it first released and the unique friendship group is what drew me to read the sequel. And so here I am for the third and final(?) book in The Honors series.


With grad school starting up, I didn't have much time to go to the movies this month. I was able to catch a showing of Dark Waters, a movie my dad desperately wanted to see because it was about a dairy farmer and he was familiar with the case. Dark Waters stars Mark Ruffalo as he embarks on a legal case from a farmer's plea that a big chemical company is poisoning his cows. It was slow which was to be expected, but it was based on a true story that was both moving and, at times, hard to watch. Other than that, I was excited to see that Prodigal Son came back from their winter break. As well as Impractical Jokers is back for another season (and their movie releases in February- I'm not sure if I'm going to see it yet). All in all, a fine media month and here's to hoping next month is even better!

GIF by ProdigalSonFox

How was your January? What books did you read? Did you watch any amazing movies/shows?

book review

Ghosts, Legends, and Layered Plots | The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: 9/18/12
Pages: 409
Source: purchased
It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive. Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her. His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble. But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little. For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.
Blue has always stayed away from the students of the all-boys school, they are always the same: jerks. However, when she finds out that a boy named Gansey is going to die soon, Blue needs to find out more. Gansey feels like he is so close to completing his life-long quest in discovering The Raven King, a man of legend. Joined by Blue, and his three best friends—Adam, Ronan and Noah—Gansey makes progress in finding the man he has been searching for so long.

Maggie Stiefvater

  • Confession: I have never read a book written by Maggie Stiefvater. I went into this book with little to no expectations. It has been recommended to me several times by several amazing individuals. I knew I was going to read it, based on their rave reviews of the series. And, thank you, for those recommendations because this is a book you should have read yesterday; the characters are amazing, the story is entertaining, and I just need to know more!
  • I was incredibly surprised how easy Stiefvater’s writing consumed me. The easy dialogue between characters, the fabulous descriptions of the setting and the curious plot had me turning pages like never before.
  • I cannot rave about her writing enough. Stiefvater places us right in the middle of these five lives that we get to piece together through development and situations. I kept getting the feeling that it was as if I knew these characters all my life. The character development was superb.

A Character-Driven Plot

  • Out of all the raven boys, I found myself most drawn to Adam. His character is wonderfully developed, his story is captivating and you just want to know more about him. He is also extremely sweet and gentle.
  • Ronan is a boy with secrets and as the series goes on, I hope readers get a bit more glances his way. He is strong and tough, with a secretive past that no one really knows the whole truth of. His character is intriguing and I’m excited to see what direction Stiefvater will have Ronan take in the sequel.
  • There were some scenes that lulled, especially in the beginning. It may have been the introduction of all the characters that seemed to go a bit slow. Readers do not truly get into the meat of the story until a hundred pages in. 
  • I couldn't help but wonder if Maggie Stiefvater was setting up the stage for Blue to either be in a love triangle or a love square. This is about to get messy, folks! I don't mind love triangles but when you add four people to the mix it does get a bit repetitive. Despite that, Blue’s romance was unpredictable. Stiefvater may be bringing in a love square but since Blue cannot kiss anyone, it makes for a different way to look at love interests. I liked it that way. Readers know from the start the potential of how it would end (if Blue were to kiss anyone) but you don't know how Blue’s romance (and between whom) will begin.
  • This series is going to be very character-driven. All the characters are very well written and developed. It'll be fun to see what crazy things they do next.

Chilling and Peculiar


  • Presently, I usually go into books blind so I always know very little about the plot. However, I didn’t realize I knew a little more about the book before going into it. The trees speak Latin. I've been seeing merchandise for that quote in so many stores around the web and didn't know where the quote was from. Now I know. I don't think seeing the merchandise spoiled me. However, I feel that if I didn't know the trees had already spoke Latin, I do think I would be a little more spooked out than I was. A lot of the scenes in The Raven Boys are rather creepy, the tone has a sort-of energy that weighs you down. The Raven Boys is the book that you read on a dark and stormy night. It has a chilling, peculiar plot that will give you shivers up your spine.
  • The Raven Boys was entirely unpredictable. I didn’t know what direction it would go in. The climax was fantastic with incredible action that kept me on my toes. However, knowing the series’ book titles, I can certainly guess what will happen by book four, The Raven King.
  • I was expecting a horrid cliffhanger and was extremely surprised to not find one. It ended on a high note. It may have not been a cliffhanger but I cannot wait to read the sequel. 

Overall

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater was absolutely fantastic with in-depth characters that make you fall in love, a gorgeous story that throws you right into the action, and a wonderful build-up to make you want more. This book is the first in The Raven Cycle series and I will definitely be continuing this one. The sequel, The Dream Thieves, is out and waiting for me to read what happens next to Blue and her boys. If you love legends, ghosts and layered plots, The Raven Boys is the book you need to read next.


The Raven Boys (9/18/12): 4 stars
The Dream Thieves (9/17/13): TBD
Blue Lily, Lily Blue (10/21/14): TBD
The Raven King (4/26/16): TBD

Top Ten Tuesday

10 Books I Meant to Read in 2019 But Didn't

Saturday, January 18, 2020

I may have read 147 books last year but I missed out on a few that I definitely meant to get to. I kept telling myself that I would read them before the end of the year. And now that the end of the year has passed us by, I still haven’t read these books.


Here’s 10 books I meant to get to last year and didn’t:


Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman: I just acquired this a few months ago so I’m giving myself a pass on finishing it in the year of 2019. However, it was one of my most anticipated reads of last year and am just so excited to finally read it!

An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker: I am so intrigued by this title. I still have no clue what this is about. Yet, I picked it up because of the title. And there is sits on my shelf. I’ll get to it soon, I hope.

Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo: This one was on a few of my TBRs throughout the year. I’ve liked Maurene Goo’s previous work. This one focuses on a romance between a kpop star and a paparazzi. I suppose I have to be in the mood for these types of novels because there are just so many celebrity romance stories out there.


Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: I try to get to at least 5 classics a year and last year, I picked out Little Women because it was being adapted into a film in December. The movie is now in theaters and I still haven’t seen it since I haven’t read the book. Hopefully, I’ll read it soon so I catch the movie while it’s still showing.

The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: I know I will love this one. It’s a fantasy with magic and time travel. It’s going to be great. It just has so many pages and it looks like a giant sitting on my shelf that it’s a bit daunting.

Save the Date by Morgan Matson: I have read a total of one Morgan Matson book ever, even though I own at least three of her books. This one focuses on a wedding, where everything that can go wrong does.


The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron: This book is always in my advertisements for Scribd for some reason. It serves as a good reminder that I need to read it. I’ve had it since it released in paperback. Dystopian is not really my thing anymore but it’s such a strange premise that I’m still willing to give it a go.

Wild Savage Stars by Kristina Perez: I have the case of sequel syndrome, in which I don’t want to pick up the sequel to Sweet Black Waves in fear that it isn’t as good as the first. Someday, though.

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: I’ve picked this one up last year several times when choosing TBRs. It’s gotten lots of buzz and now that the sequel is out, I want to read it more.


Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa: I’ve never read a Kagawa book either, despite having many of her books on my shelf. The sequel to this recently released and it reminded me that I was supposed to have read this one by now. I am hesitant because I have this weird peeve in books with talking animals and I believe there’s a talking fox in this (though I might be wrong).

What book did you mean to read last year and didn't?

Tackling my TBR

Tackling My TBR: January 2020

Friday, January 03, 2020

Tackling My TBR is a monthly post, where I share my reading plans for the upcoming month. The concept of a TBR Jar is not a new one. I’ve seen it used in various ways throughout the bookish community. My jar will be a little different. The goal is to read the older books on my to-read pile. Thus, instead of putting individual book titles on a small sheet of paper to place in the jar, I wrote a month and a year on each. Each month, I intend to pull three sheets of paper from my jar which will dictate which three books I will read. The dates on the paper correspond with the date I added those books to my Goodreads account. Some months will have over 20 books to choose from, when others may have only one. From Goodreads, I’ll choose the three books from the three different monthly hauls. And if I cannot complete the book within the month, it will be unhauled (with the exception of one pass each month).


Since it’s the new year, we are starting fresh this month so I will not be discussing last month’s picks.

From the jar, I picked from the June 2013, July 2014, and August 2015 book hauls. From there I chose the following books:


Switched by Amanda Hocking: I own this entire series, as well as another series by Hocking and I’ve never once read her books. Switched follows a girl who turns out to be a changeling, a supernatural creature switched at birth with a human child. It sounds good, albeit a little tropey, but we’ll have to see how it goes.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson: A nonfiction pick. This one has been on my shelf for such a long time so it’ll be good to finally shake the dust off.

Love with a Chance of Drowning by Torre DeRoche: I was surprised I pulled two non-fiction from the jar. Nonfiction is something I read very sparingly; I usually have to be in the mood for that specific book. However, I’m going to give both of these a try. This one is actually a travel memoir about following your heart; it sounds lovely!

What are you reading this month?